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Detroit Lakes Bantam A's find their stride

After a tough start this year, the Detroit Lakes Bantam A hockey team won two big district games against Wadena and Alexandria, both in convincing fashion.

Both games were played at the Kent Freeman Arena on Dec. 19-20.

Saturday's weekend opener was against a much-improved Wadena team.

With goals by Taylor Magnuson and Connor Collins, DL had a slim 2-1 lead at the end of the first period.

DL's Chris Anderson started the scoring in the second period, but the game changed when Austin Rusness scored a shorthanded breakaway goal to give DL a 4-1 lead.

Alex Ziegler and Kyle Herrmann tallied later and Rusness finished with a hat trick, as DL coasted to an 8-3 victory.

"This was a much needed effort by this team," said Head Coach Ben Noah.

"I just hope our guys can find a way to continue to play like this."

It didn't take long for the Bantams to prove they could pick up where they left off when they hosted Alexandria Sunday.

Rusness opened the scoring midway through the first, taking a feed from Ziegler and burying his opportunity in the net.

Alexandria's solid goaltending kept the score at 1-0 to end the first period, even though DL outshot them 12-5.

DL's net minder, Brett Nephew held off an early second period rally by Alexandria and midway through the period, Connor Collins caught a break.

Collins took a hit behind the net, stuck with the play and shot the puck off the back of the Alex goaltender and in.

"That was a huge goal to put us up two," Noah said "Connor is one of those guys that can create his own chances, and that's what he did."

Rusness stretched the lead by banging in his second goal of the game (eight goals in his last four games) and Ziegler added one more as DL topped Alexandria 4-1.

Nephew stopped 30 of 34 shots he faced in the two-game stretch.

Noah had praise for all his players.

"They are doing the little things that allow us to have success," he said. "They are getting the puck deep, playing physical, supporting each other, and just out-working their opponent.

"Every guy accepted their role, and this weekend we became a team."

DL's next home game is Sunday, Dec. 27, at 2 p.m., when they host Warroad.